Pattye Benson

Community Matters

T/E Teachers Union President Helps Clarify Original Salary Freeze Offer

Struggling to understand the offer that was made by the teachers union, TEEA to the T/E School Board, I sent an email to Pete DePiano, asking for clarification. Below is my email and DePiano’s official response. I accept that because the offer was rejected by the school board, the original offer is now somewhat a moot point.

We understand that other school districts across Pennsylvania are struggling with similar budget shortfalls as the T/E School District and we read of other school boards accepting ‘salary freeze’ offers from their teachers. The confusion over the definition of salary freeze and pay increase waiver has led many in the public to question why the T/E school board did not accept TEEA’s offer. If nothing else, the continued dialogue on Community Matters is helping us to better understand the nuances that exist in the discussion.

It certainly is not (nor has it ever been) my attempt to create any additional friction between the teachers and the school board. I, like many in the community, am struggling to understand the school district budget, the strategies to fund the budget shortfall and what role the teacher’s contract may play in those discussions. I want there to exist a good working relationship between TEEA and TESD . . . feeling that if the communication between these two groups remains open and honest, the outcome will be all the better for the kids (and the taxpayers).

My email to Pete DePiano, TEEA president:

There continues to be misunderstanding of TEEA’s salary freeze offer. Although I asked you to clarify the salary freeze offer and I thought that I understood, maybe I’m the one who is confused. Here’s a very simple scenario and please tell me if my understanding is correct:

You have a 3-year contract with 3 steps:
Year 1: Step 1
Year 2: Step 2
Year 3: Step 3
Teachers accept a pay freeze for Year 3

As a result:
Year 1: Step 1
Year 2: Step 2
Year 3: Step 2
Year 4: Step 3

Under the ‘pay freeze’, teachers receive the pay raise that they were to receive in Year 3 in Year 4. The 3-year contract is extended to 4 years. The teachers receive 3 steps (raises) in 4 years. Is this correct interpretation – please comment. I want the public (and myself) to fully understand what TEEA offered to TESD.

Response from Pete DePiano, TEEA president:

“Thank you for the opportunity to clarify:

The offer [though a moot point now] was a step freeze for one year, then a continuation of the final year in 2012-13. There was NEVER any suggestion of a “double” step move.

Your example of step 1, step 2, step 2, step 3 is the correct interpretation.”

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    1. TE Parent – Understanding the process is important to me; in this case, it is the teachers union salary freeze offer. Faced with the remaining large school district budget deficit, the school board members are challenged to figure out a solution — or will reducing the fund balance be the only remaining option. The school board members, administrators and the teachers are putting much time in looking for solutions — here’s hoping that there is some good news from Harrisburg when the governor presents the budget.

  1. From watching all of the meetings on TV, reading articles in the newspaper, and talking to people in the community it seems that some things were kept from the public on the school boards end. This same “confusion” happened last year around the same time when the school board denied receiving a one time cost saving offer from the teachers (I believe it was forgoing their last few days of pay which were inservice days). The school board keeps reiterating shared sacrifice, but it seems like they want the teachers to make the majority share of the sacrifice.

    Another thing I am struggling to understand is that the school board referenced the “pay freeze” that the teachers in Lancaster took and how great that was, and then when TEEA made the same offer, they rejected it. I know they don’t want to extend the contract of the teachers any longer, but that was a deal that was made in good faith. If they thought it was so bad at the time then the board should have never agreed to it.

    I see a lot of venom being spit out at our teachers on this board, but put yourselves in their shoes. If you had the necessary experience and education to earn the money agreed upon, how many of you would be willing to give up your agreed upon raise? The raise they have already agreed to forgo with a freeze is much more than what we would pay in a lot of the tax proposals. If you were one of those teachers, would you be willing to do that, (to share the sacrifice) when so many in the community are against doing their part and accepting a tax raise or EIT.

    If we want whats best for our schools and community as a whole then everyone needs to start asking, “How can I help?” instead of… “Why isn’t so and so helping?”

  2. I appreciate Pete De Piano’s response to you Pattye. He’s clearly staying on top of things.

    Speaking of on top of things — I guess I’m unusually picky, but I got a postcard today from our sitting School Board President, “Re-elect Karen Cruickshank” …and they spelled “liaison” incorrectly. Now — I’m all for excusing our many typos on blogs and even in emails, but shouldn’t someone wanting to be our face in a negotiation at least proof-read their own mailer?


    And I warned us all to beware of these phrases:

    “Committed to meeting budget challenges while maintaining excellence in education”…
    “delivering excellent education in a fiscally responsible way”……

    Pablum for the public. TELL ME HOW!

    And maybe be as open with the public as Mr. De Piano is with inquiring minds.

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